Hall breaks Dome goose-egg

Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff stops Oilers forward Taylor Hall at the Scotiabank Saddledome in...

Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff stops Oilers forward Taylor Hall at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alta., Feb. 21, 2012. (MIKE STURK/Reuters)

ERIC FRANCIS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:33 AM ET

CALGARY - So that’s what life would be like without Miikka Kiprusoff’s heroics?

Having finally cracked the top eight and appearing ready to stay there with perhaps the easiest game left this season on their docket, the Calgary Flames goofed.

The Flames zigged when everybody figured they’d zag.

Taking the crowd out of the game early with a shockingly slow start that had the frenzied young Edmonton Oilers outskating and outworking the hosts, the visitors snapped a nine-game all-Alberta losing skid with a 6-1 spanking that will leave a mark every bit as nasty as the one sported by Oilers stalwart Taylor Hall.

Giving up goals on 4-on-2s, 2-on-1s and almost every other way possible, the Flames collapse had plenty to do with the youthful exuberance that has Oilers fans excited about what’s to come. Give ’em some credit.

Outshot 17-7 in the first, the Flames hung on 1-1 thanks largely to Kiprusoff’s karma.

Kiprusoff ran out of magic in the second when Hall & Co. fired another 17 shots at Kiprusoff, four of which beat the man who’d get a merciful hook at period’s end.

So much for moving into a seventh-place tie or continuing the shocking run the Flames have been on the last month against all odds. With one slip, they’re now out of the top eight. Instead, it was a night for Hall, who was by far the best player on the ice — a kid who spoke passionately earlier in the day about the first 13 years of his life growing up in the northeast as a Flames fan.

“So many memories of playing as a kid here,” said the former student at Colonel Macleod School off 16th Ave.

“The history of the rivalry and so many other things I went through before the game. It’s been since my first game in the NHL to see a win against these guys. I’ve never won in this building — never even come close to it — so that was something we set out to do.”

Although he only ended up with a goal and a helper, the former first pick overall in 2010 was a terror with a career-high nine shots on goal.

“I always kind of set a goal for myself of five shots, and when I get stoned like that on my first shift of the game, people think you probably get down, but you get momentum from that,” said Hall, who picked up his very first point against the Flames in six outings, skating on a line with Ales Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff.

“It’s always in the back of your mind to play well against the team you grew up watching, and I haven’t even played well against them. It’s nice to get that first point.

“It’s too bad I don’t have any family here anymore.”

While it remains to be seen if the Flames will have a chance to recreate any of the magic of 2004 by entering the playoffs for the first time in three years, Hall loved rehashing his memories of the run that came when he was, gulp, a young teen.

“I was still pretty young when the Red Mile happened — I was 12 or 13, so I didn’t get to go to the Red Mile itself, but I definitely lived that whole playoff run,” Hall said.

“I was a diehard fan then, and it was such a cool time for Calgarians and the whole city. Whenever the Flames would score a goal, you could open the front door and hear car horns on the streets. Now, it’s just cool to be part of the Battle of Alberta on the other side.”

Cool, too, to overshadow his childhood hero — for one night anyway.

“My favourite player was Jarome (Iginla) — not only for what he did on the ice but he was smiling during interviews and he seemed like such a good individual,” said Hall who moved to Kingston at age 13. “He plays hard, and he’s a leader on that team, and that’s something I want to be on this team sooner or later.”

Has he met his hero yet?

“I’ve never met him yet,” Hall said. “Just on the ice, and that’s not too fun to meet him on the ice. He’s a pretty fierce competitor — that’s for sure.”

That competitor and his teammates will get a chance to bounce back Thursday night.

Will they zig or zag?

eric.francis@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/ericfrancis

- Eric Francis appears regularly as a panellist on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada.


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